Identifying the Giant Rodent on the Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (issue 96)

The animal featured on the front cover of the latest edition of the magazine Prehistoric Times is an extinct rodent from the genus Josephoartigasia (J. monesi).  Standing approximately 1.5 metres high at the shoulder, this animal, which lived in South America from 4-2 million years ago, looked like something crossed between a guinea pig and a rhinoceros.

Weighing as much as one tonne, this cow sized rodent is the biggest rodent genus known to science.  Known only from a partial skull, found in Uruguay and scientifically described just three years ago, the illustration was created by the renowned artist James Gurney.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Winter)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The sheer size of this giant, prehistoric rodent and the low point of view of the artwork, may have confused some viewers as to thinking this was some sort of prehistoric horse (the teeth provide the clue to the rodent heritage), perhaps even a Toxodont, such as Toxodon.  These large Notoungulates such as the Toxodonts, had prominent incisors and also lived in South America, but the massive, pair of incisors at the front of the mouth identify the animal in the illustration as a member of the Order Rodentia.

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